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My first track & field article
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National Championship in reach
Track and Field

MELISSA KANIA
Associate Sports Editor

Three Buffalo State student-athletes were invited to this weekend’s NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships in recognition of their accomplishments this year.

Erica Johnson, Latoya Edwards and Jessica Walker will take part in the competition at Depauw University.

Johnson will compete in the 55-meter dash and currently holds the fourth fastest seed time run this season. Edwards, who is seeded 12th in the event, will also compete in the 55-meter. Walker will compete in the triple jump, in which she is currently seeded 10th.

“I’m so excited. I know it’s going to be a lot of pressure because all of the girls I am jumping against are all neck and neck. It can go either way,” said Walker who garnered Athlete of the Week status for the second straight week. “I’m just going to focus my best and have fun with it. I’m just so happy that I made it.”

The top eight finishers in each event will earn All-America honors, a title that Edwards also achieved last year.

Edwards received top honors and was named the SUNYAC Women’s Runner of the Meet on March 2, after she posted strong individual performances in the 55, 200 and 400-meter dash at the SUNYAC Championships.

The senior sprinter finished second-place in the 55-meter, with an NCAA provisional time of 7.22 seconds, while also taking second in the 200 with a time of 25.65 seconds, and fourth in the 400 after crossing the finish line in 1:00.59.

The women’s track and field team won the SUNYAC Championships for the second straight year, edging out SUNY Geneseo by two points.

“Whenever you’re defending a championship, you kind of expect everybody to be coming for you and to try to beat you,” said head track coach Eugene Lewis. “To be able to withstand that, to basically accomplish that goal again was very exciting.”

In addition, Lewis was recognized as SUNYAC Women’s Coach of the Year after he guided the Bengals to their second-straight conference title.

Five other Bengals athletes were named to the first-team All-SUNYAC after winning individual race titles. Neshay Maxwell, Taniqua Hollingsworth and Justin Allen were named to the team.

Several new school records were set during the meet. Johnson won the 55-meter and set new school and SUNYAC records with a qualifying time of 7.11 seconds, while Maxwell set a new record time of 8.50 seconds in the 55-meter hurdles. Walker also set a school record in the triple jump (11.61m).

“Our girls, we just really work hard,” Walker said. “We find a place to focus and throughout the meet we always make sure if we’re not warming up or preparing for our events that we go out and cheer (our teammates) on as much as we can just to create team unity and everybody loves to be cheered on to get that extra push.”

Allen, a freshman, was the lone individual champion on the men’s side, garnering a first place finish in the 200 (22.40 seconds.)

The men’s team earned third place in the SUNYAC Championships.

“Our coach told us that was the best performance by both women’s and men’s side, so that was good to hear from our coach,” said Ray Peoples, a junior sprinter. “We’ve been known just for our sprinters, but recently it’s been our jumpers and long distant runners and other field events that have come through in the clutch for us, specifically for the girls’ squad in winning back-to-back conference championships.”

Coach Lewis said all three girls competing this weekend have put in a lot of hard work, and each expect to do well at the meet.

“What I like about the three is they’re all ranked pretty high nationally, so they are in a very good position to become All-Americans,” Lewis said. “With a little luck, a national championship could definitely be in the discussion.”

The preliminaries of the 55-meter will take place on Friday at 5:35 p.m. with the finals scheduled for Saturday at 3:25 p.m. The triple jump is slated for Saturday at 9:45 a.m.


• Melissa Kania can be reached by e-mail at kania.record@live.com.

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